To make love to the camera does not always involve a breathtakingly beautiful model casting sultry looks into a hip photographer’s lens. In Philipp Dorl’s practice, it is a process of reflection on the limitations of photography and its overlap with sculpture; a process explored throughout his body of mostly monochromatic work.
My first encounter with Dorl’s work took place at the FreshFaced + WildEyed 2014 exhibition, showcased by the Photographers’ Gallery in London. It is a moment I revisit time and time again whenever I think about his practice.
Among the works exhibited, ‘Slit Backdrop II’ - a black and white photograph of a hand cutting a piece of paper - attracted my attention most: it questions the surface of photography, and offers it a sculptural quality.
Later, in the artist’s studio, I saw more photographs tackling the formal aspects of contemporary photography, as well as its erotic potential - an element reminiscent of Man Ray’s quest to push the boundaries of early twentieth-century photographic experiments.
On that same crisp November morning, Dorl showed me a new body of work titled ‘Orifices’ that featured in his recent exhibition Taupe, a solo event in London, which ran 6 to 8 March at ArtLacuna.
Small flint stones placed on a mirror appear suspended as if they are particles in a scientific test. From micro to macro, exhibited together with parts of the ‘Orifices’ series is a life-size printout of an ideal dojo (a traditional Japanese martial arts gym), ripped from a Google image search. Encapsulating an architectural element, the dojo has a particular physical quality given by a myriad of smaller prints, each fragment adding to a transformative process.
As the event overview reads, “The title ‘Taupe’, a colour so hard to determine, points towards his interest in phenomenology, perceptual oscillation and the visual unconsciousness.” While the premise of his exhibition suggests a sense of the uncertain and indefinite, Dorl’s artistic direction and creative flair are evident.
[ArtLacuna used to be a coroner’s office in Clapham Junction. In 2013 it was turned into artist studios, as well as project and exhibition space.]
Words: Sorana Serban
Artwork: 'Orifice III', 2014 By Philipp Dorl